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The building with patterned balconies opposite the Church of St. George the Victorious is the former hotel of Ivan Mamontov, one of the biggest tax farmers in Russia.
The hotel in Sadovniki district was built in 1872 by a manufacturer named Ivan Mamontov, the father of a famous Russian merchant Savva Mamontov. The construction was supposed to be finished until the opening of the All-Russian industrial exhibition that marked the two hundredth anniversary of Peter’s I birthday. The balconies were built in a way that they look to Kremlin and Zamoskvorechie area.
Right before the revolution the hotel was purchased by Leontiev brothers. In 1920-s they opened a dining hall on the ground floor of the hotel building. Even after the WW2 it was considered to be the best dining hall in the whole area.
The building of the former hotel of Ivan Mamontov is decorated with two laced cast-iron balconies that had been casted in the famous plant of Kasli in Chelyabinskaya Oblast. This plant was renowned for the delicate work of its masters and extremely high prices of its cast-iron articles.
Ivan Mamontov was a peasant by birth. He grew up in Kaluzhskaya Oblast, but left for Siberia later. There he became a tax farmer of Tobolsk and Tyumen regions. Later on he moved to Moscow, where his son Savva and his nephews became outstanding manufacturers. The Mamontovs owned several businesses, including a famous print shop, a hotel chain, a pottery called Abramtsevo, as well as the biggest in Europe factory of varnishes and paints.
There used to be a system of wine tax-farming in Russia. This is how it worked. The government granted private persons a right to sell spirits, while the entrepreneurs were supposed to pay a certain deposit to the state treasury and then farm a territorial entity, such as town, district or province, to sell their good there. There was a strictly defined income tax for them to pay. It should be mentioned here that this tax made up almost half of the state budget. The tax-farming of the liquor industry, also called wine tax-farming, was the most profitable. The problem of alcoholism didn’t really bother anyone at that time. Though people themselves did realize the malignancy of this whole system. Therefore the teetotalism movement (or movement against alcohol) started in Russia in the middle of the 19th century. However the government began repressing the abstainers, while selling alcohol to the tax-farmers at knock-down prices. It was only a couple of decades later that the authorities noticed the scale of alcoholism in the country, but it was already too late for them to turn back and start all over again.
The territories of historical district Zamoskvorechye lie on the right (southern) bank of the Moskva River. They joined Moscow in the 14th century when Russian lands used to suffer from the Golden Horde raids. The settlers mainly were soldiers, handicraftsmen and merchants. Their life was organized in a patchwork sloboda system. In 1591-1592 during the reign of Feodor I the fortified wall on the site of the present-day Garden Ring was built. Even now, one can easily understand from the street names what occupation the residents had centuries ago. For example, royal garden attendants (садовники, sadovniki) settled in the beginning of present-day Sadovnicheskaya Street from 1495 until the fire of 1701; tanners specializing in sheepskin (oвчинники, ovchinniki) gave their name to Ovchinnikovsky Lanes; royal mint workers (монетчики, monetchiki) – to Monetchikovsky Lanes, Court translators (толмачи, tolmachi) to Tolmachevsky Lanes. Bolshaya Ordynka Street was named after Orda, was the road to the Golden Horde, and was initially home to the Tatar community.
During our tour we are going to tell you about famous historic buildings in Pyatnitskaya Street, the main walking street of the district. We will walk around the State Tretyakov Gallery and listen to the story about the Tretyakovs, famous Russian businessmen, collectors and patrons of art, and the history of their collection and Gallery building.
There is also the house and museum of another famous Russian businessman and patron of art - Bakhrushin museum of theater, built in 1896.
Famous Russian writer Alexander Ostrovsky also lived in Zamoskvorechye, in Malaya Ordynka street. If you like his works you can visit his house-museum.
Zamoskvorechye is famous for its churches: Church of St. Sophia Of God's Wisdom on Gardener's Island and its belfry, Church of St. George the Victorious in Endova, The Church of the Ikon “the Joy of All Who Suffer”, The Church of St Nicholas at Pyzhakh, etc. Each of them has its own history and mystery.
With Your Audio Guide you will go through all the streets and lanes, get familiar with some interesting yards, explore the legends and myths and find out the truth. You will relax on the benches of Bolotnaya square; take pictures of the Kremlin domes, Giant Peter the Great statue, river embankments, learn about the former Mamontov Hotel and super deluxe Balchug-Kempinsky.